Picture of the week (No.35): Mangroves in Mexico. Share
Periodically (previously every week), Willgoto selects here a nice picture. Mangroves and, particularly, those of the Yucatán peninsula in Mexico are the theme of the thirty-fifth picture in this series. Mangroves are indeed particularly valuable ecosystems for humans and for wildlife. This time, we have selected two pictures.
Mangrove in Ría Lagartos nature reserve in the north of the Yucatán peninsula in Mexico: mangroves and great egret.
The country. As far as tourism is concerned, the Yucatán peninsula in Mexico is best known for its beaches (mainly those in the tourist area of Cancun and in the Riviera Maya), its historic sites (especially the numerous ruins of the Maya civilization), and various other attractions such as cenotes, leisure parks, and scuba diving sites. Visitors of the Yucatán peninsula can also discover many nature reserves, some of which are home to large mangroves, such as Ría Lagartos, Ría Celestún and the Yum Balam reserve on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico and the Sian Ka'an nature reserve on the coast of the Caribbean Sea.
Mangroves are ecosystems that are made up of forests growing in salt marshes and muddy zones on the coasts (or along tidal estuaries) of tropical and subtropical regions. Tides are an essential part of these ecosystems. The mangrove trees anchor themselves in the ground through to a complex of adventitious, often arched roots whose long aerial parts are more visible at low tide. These trees are salt tolerant. The aerial part of their roots has indeed respiratory pores which enable to oxygenate the roots beneath the mud. In addition, some species of mangrove trees remove excess salt from their leaves.
The mangrove trees produce seeds that germinate on the tree and form roots before falling and sinking into the mud.
Mangroves improve water quality by filtering pollutants and fix the sediments carried by rivers and sea currents. They provide habitat or breeding spaces for multiple species of fish, mollusks, and crustaceans. In this regard, mangroves are a source of food for the local people who also use their wood. The richness of these marine environments permanently or seasonally attracts a large number of species of birds and other animals, including terrestrial species. Scientists estimate that more than 450 species of terrestrial vertebrates (mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and others) use mangrove forests as habitat, at least temporarily.
Mangroves reduce coastal erosion and provide valuable protection against storms, cyclones and to some extent tsunamis. In addition, according to scientists, mangroves are among the ecosystems that store the most carbon, which is a significant quality for curbing global warming.
Mangrove in Sian Ka'an nature reserve in the south of the Yucatán peninsula in Mexico.
Using a satellite observation in 2010, NASA estimated at 137,760 km² the total area of mangroves on the planet. Unfortunately, the area has been substantially reduced in recent decades due to human activities (including the clearing of mangroves for shrimp farming in Asia) and natural phenomena (including soil acidification). The losses are estimated at 20% over twenty years.
Considering that several species of mangroves are vulnerable or endangered, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature encourages projects to safeguard and restore mangroves. UNESCO includes several mangroves in areas that are protected as biosphere reserves and/or world heritage sites. July 26 has been declared the International Day for the Protection of Mangroves.
Ría Lagartos is a coastal nature reserve including a large lagoon. It is located in Mexico on the north coast of Yucatán near the small town of Rio Lagartos, about hundred kilometers north of Valladolid. The reserve is not fed by rivers, but by currents from the sea which run aground on the coast and in the lagoon. With a lush mangrove, Ría Lagartos Nature Reserve is home to many species of birds, fish, turtles, crocodiles and other animals. It is an important migration area, especially for flamingos from April to September. It is recognized as a biosphere reserve by UNESCO.
Ría Celestún Nature Reserve is another relatively similar lagoon where flamingos meet more from September to February. It is located about 300 km west from Ría Lagartos.
Sian Ka'an Nature Reserve consists of a tropical forest, archaeological sites, marshes, mangroves and a maritime part comprising coral reefs. Mangroves occupy about a third of its area. The reserve, one of the largest protected areas in Mexico, covers 5,280 km² south of Tulum on the Caribbean Sea coast of the Yucatán peninsula. It is characterized by an exceptional biological diversity. It is home to a rich tropical flora and fauna, including mammals such as jaguar, puma, ocelot and Central American tapir, as well as marine turtles and hundreds of species of birds and fish.
Sian Ka'an (which means "origin of the sky") is both a biosphere reserve and a world heritage site. It is also a wetland protected by the Ramsar Convention.
You may want also to see these beautiful pictures from Mexico (partly in French):
How to get there. The Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico is a very popular tourist destination that can be easily reached from many parts of the world. It has two international airports in Cancun and Cozumel which offer scheduled or seasonal flights to over 30 foreign countries. The port of Cozumel hosts frequent international cruise ships. The road network of the peninsula is well developed.
The author of the pictures. The above pictures belong to Willgoto.
Picture of the week 1: Bee hummingbird, the smallest bird in the world. It is endemic to Cuba.
Picture of the week 2: Pagoda of the Golden Rock in Myanmar. It is one of the most sacred Buddhist sites in the world.
Picture of the week 3: Seychelles beach. Seychelles is a perfect destination for a dream holiday.
Picture of the week 4: Lemur of Madagascar (Coquerel's sifaka), an endangered species of primates, which, like all other species of lemurs, is endemic to Madagascar.
Picture of the week 5: World heritage in Cambodia. The temple of Banteay Srei, better known as 'Citadel of the women', in Cambodia is a jewel of Khmer art and a world heritage site.
Picture of the week 6: Bull shark and tiger shark. Both sharks are unfortunately known for fatal attacks on humans. However, experienced divers can approach them and swim with them.
Picture of the week 7: Firewalking in Mauritius. Walking barefoot over a bed of hot embers is an ancestral religious practice.
And many more pictures of the week including:
Picture of the week 27: Outdoor activities in Reunion Island, France. Reunion island is indeed an ideal destination for leisure and outdoor activities.
Picture of the week 28: Beach of Zanzibar. Zanzibar is a dream destination for sunny beach holidays particularly after a long safari in East Africa.
Picture of the week 29: Fauna of Costa Rica. Costa Rica is an ideal destination for all enthusiasts of wildlife.
Picture of the week 30: The red crab of Christmas Island (Australia). The annual migration of Christmas Island red crabs is the main tourist attraction of the island.
Picture of the week 31: Cultural attractions of Bangkok (Thailand). Wat Pho - the Temple of the Reclining Buddha - is one of the most popular cultural attractions of the Thai capital.
Picture of the week 32: Tourist attractions of Belgium. The Atomium is remarkable building which, like the Eiffel Tower in Paris, has become the emblem of the city.
Picture of the week 33: Tourist attractions of Luang Prabang (Laos). The famous Wat Xieng Thong is representative of the religious architectural style of Luang Prabang.
Picture of the week 34: The tourist attractions of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). Ho Chi Minh City and its Chinatown quarter, Cholon, are home to many tourist attractions.
See all our "Pictures of the week".